MARK 10:43-45 (ESV) | “But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Ramen Pride Noodles
What do all of these items have in common? They are all currency. Ramen Pride Noodles? Otherwise known as “soups”, Ramen Price Noodles (RPN) are currency among inmates in jails and prisons. Purchased through weekly “commissary”, these treasured packets — which sell for about 20 cents in any store on the outside — are the stuff of which dreams are made. This is especially true when inmates combine their resources to make a “slam”: a feast combining noodles with whatever else is available.
Imagine having a job where you make 17 cents an hour, less than $7 a week. Where else is there help? Families that have lost their major wage earner sometimes scrape up enough to provide a few dollars a week to help. Some inmates make additional money from cutting hair, doing tats, washing laundry, shining shoes, or making art. (I have the most amazing belt woven from twisted trash bags.) Then there are those who lie in wait for inmates returning from commissary to jump them with shivs or beat them with locks, leaving them either for the med unit or even the morgue.
The only other way that inmates get soups is through the generosity of followers of Jesus who model what it means to serve rather than be served. They give their soups to inmates who have never had anyone visit them or assist them.
One example is Rene, who became a follower of Jesus while in the county jail. He eventually was baptized and became the leader of the Christian community in his pod. Nineteen men came to faith through Rene’s witness and were baptized at the jail.
When Rene went on to the state prison, we continued to meet together, and I witnessed how the Spirit within him urged him to serve — even with his noodles. Rene’s new bunkie had nothing, and no one was helping him. Rene shared his last soup with him. When Rene was asked why he would do this, he used it as an opportunity to share his testimony. His bunkie began to weep, and Rene was able to lead him to faith in Jesus.
Rene did not have much, but he served the Lord with what he had.
Rene is now on the outside and working at the task of meeting the needs of his fractured family. He and his son, Josh, study the Word together regularly, and Josh has begun to lead Bible studies in his home.
QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION
- Who has God called you to serve, even in a seemingly simple way?
- What “currency” has God placed in your hands to be a blessing to others?
- Have you been asked recently, “Why have you done this for me?” What answer would you give if asked?
This reading is a part of our "Small Feet Big Shoes" devotional series. You can also sign up to receive these meditations by email.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Phil Alessi and his wife, Ruthann, have been with CRM since 2002. They currently serve on the Accelerate Team, seeking to ignite disciple making movements specifically among inmates in prison. They have four kids and five grandkids and live in Valparaiso, Indiana (Greater Chicago).